Key Findings

This quarterly report assesses the economic significance of the online platform economy from the perspective of the purposeful sample used for the monitoring exercise as well as existing secondary data. Our sample includes most of the large players but not all (and it includes only a selection of regional players), hence the results are only a snapshot of the economic significance and do not represent the entirety of the online platform economy. 

Average revenue by platform type

  • The average revenue per platform type differs: online application stores and cloud services – EUR 86.95 billion, online search engines – EUR 65.32 billion, e-commerce market places – EUR 44.59 billion, online media platforms – EUR 39.95 billion, online social media – EUR 18.96 billion, online travel agencies – EUR 3.2 billion, collaborative economy platforms – EUR 2.5 billion. High differences might be explained by the fact that for e-commerce, app stores or online search engines, the revenues of parent companies are factored in (due to lack of data on revenue streams).
  • Overall, across all platform types, the data on revenue distribution by platform type is skewed, meaning that there are a couple of platforms which have a comparatively higher revenue than the others. The main platform type where the revenues tend to gravitate to a higher degree towards the mean is the online application stores. The same applies to online search engines however these results might not be fully reliable due to the lower sample size.

Platform funding

  • The total funding amount of platforms equalled EUR 32.9 billion and of their parent companies equalled EUR 76.7 billion. While collaborative economy platforms do not ‘shine’ when it comes to revenue, they did manage to attract considerable amounts of funding (almost the same as online application stores and cloud services whose revenues are considerably higher), which might indicate a growing sector.
  • The parent companies of online social media platforms and collaborative economy platforms were funded more than the parent companies of other platform types.

Online sales

  • On average, in 2019 only 21% of businesses in the EU conducted online sales and this trend increased by only 1% in 2021.
  • In 2019, 16% of companies conducted direct online sales and only 6% sold products/services through marketplaces. The numbers have increased slightly by 2021, when for 21% of companies sold through direct online website and 10% through marketplaces.
  • Also in 2019, electronic sales were on average carried out mostly within the companies’ own countries (20% EU27 average), followed by only 10% in other EU countries and 5% outside the EU. The situation has not dramatically changed by 2021 and while extra-EU sales remained at 5% on average, the national level sales increased by 2% and the intra-EU sales by 1%.

Consumers purchasing behaviour

  • Consumer purchasing behaviour is assumed to have been impacted by COVID-19. In 2019, 70% individuals (of those who have used the internet) bought or ordered goods or services online. The EU average increased by 4% during the pandemic (reached in 2021) and some countries saw considerable increase in consumer online purchasing (e.g. Netherlands, Sweden, Luxembourg).

Platform size and importance

The figure below presents the distribution of the total revenue by platform type: online application stores and cloud services – EUR 954.67 billion, e-commerce market places – EUR 490.42 billion, online search engines – EUR 261.27 billion, online media platforms – EUR 239.72 billion, online social media – EUR 94.82 billion, online travel agencies – 19.29 billion, collaborative economy platforms – EUR 19.87 billion. As the total number of platforms falling into each platform type differs, the figures from Figure 1 should not be used for comparisons between groups. The figure aims to show the distribution of revenues by platform type in order to grasp the current financial conditions (status quo) of the platforms from our sample.